IDPA Clinic: Beginner Insights

Discussion in 'GSSF / IDPA / Competition' started by ROYALE-W-CHEESE, Apr 17, 2012.


    ROYALE-W-CHEESE New Member

    While there is a wealth of valuable information on the web and in these here forums, I'm going to share some personal insights about a recently attended IDPA (Intro) Clinic. Some points might underscore what's already out there; the rest are from experiences I didn't find online; all are from a beginner's POV.

    My local IDPA club requires passing their IDPA Clinic before participating in their matches. For beginners, I highly recommend it anyway. The clinic is about 1 hour classroom instruction; 1 hour dry fire drills; 2 hours live fire exercises, 3 progressive stages; 6 hours on a Saturday; $30.

    Reflections on First-Time/Introduction to IDPA

    • This Clinic and IDPA are not intended for the first-time shooter. Have the basics of shooting down (grip, sight alignment, trigger control, etc). You don’t have to start out an expert marksman in IDPA; you just need to be safe and in control. Send 1000+ rounds downrange before you do IDPA.
    • Practice holstering, drawing and re-holstering with an unloaded firearm at home in front of a mirror. Start slowly and deliberately to reinforce proper muscle mechanics.
    • All the info from the classroom portion and dry fire drills, you can garner by doing diligent homework on Google, YouTube and GlockForum. The benefit of the live instruction, as it is with all live instruction, is the ability to ask questions for clarification.
    • If this is your first experience with live-fire competition or live-fire movement, the first “evolution” is terrifying. The fear/nervousness/confusion is not in firing the weapon – you should not be a first-time shooter – the fear is of some extra exceptional mishap such as tripping and falling with a loaded firearm in your hand. Slow down; take your time!
    • Speed should be your last priority. This is for safety and for building muscle memory. You'll be thinking about a couple dozen things at once. Do yourself and everyone a favor, don't think about speed. Do not attempt it as a beginner. Speed will come in time. Slow is smooth; smooth is fast.
    • Re-holstering is not counted as part of your time so take your time to be safe. You will be asked to re-holster after your Course of Fire when the clock is off. Go ahead and look at what you’re doing. (Some beginners at the clinic were trying to re-holster without looking at their firearm, holster or especially fingers. Yikes.)
    • “You can’t miss fast enough.” In short, it is better to take an extra second to hit your target than to rush and miss.
    • Before your at-bat spend some time “taking down the COF” mentally. That is, visualize the scenario. Don't just stand around gabbing or seeing whose caliber is bigger.
    • If they say to bring 50 rounds of ammo (to the clinic), you will be fine with 75 rounds. 100 rounds will be more than enough. I brought 300 rounds; I used 40.
    • I used 230gr cheap-stuff FMJ. This was plenty minimum power factor for my Glock 21SF .45 caliber. Side observation: I saw a lot of S&W M&Ps, Springfield XDs, 1911s, one revolver and of course, a few Glocks. Most calibers at the clinic began with a "4".
    • The average distance to target was 8-10ft; the longest was maybe 15-18ft.
    • Dress in layers as the day gets warmer or cooler. There’s a reason why those vests are popular – they’re easy-on, cooler to wear (heat, not fashion), and stay out of the way.
    • By the third evolution, you will feel 10x more relaxed. I did.
    • Learn to keep score. Follow the RO/SO when he scores the other shooters. This allows you to pick up hints, tips, critiques, advice given to other participants. Don’t be a shade dweller; do your share of work (brassing, taping, etc).
    • Bring work gloves to help move things around. Nothing is heavy but getting a splinter or cut in your shooting hand during a shooting event is not convenient.
    • Bring a small first aid kit. ;)
    • The local club that hosts my event does not currently ban the Blackhawk Serpa retention holster but they did acknowledge that with mis-use, you can have a ND. They also acknowledged that with mis-use of any holster, you can have a ND.
    • I recommend not buying super-expensive national match competition gear for your first IDPA unless you know you’re going to get deep into it. Cheap or borrowed gear is perfectly fine for your first time.
    • As soon as the timer’s buzzer goes off for your first few stages, it’s like the Neuralizer in Men In Black: your mind kinda goes blank. You have to concentrate your thoughts; make your actions deliberate; and do not focus on speed.
    • Everyone knows to KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER until you’re ready to fire; but not everyone has practiced the muscle mechanics of REMOVING YOUR FINGER FROM THE TRIGGER after you’ve finished your string and/or before you move/reload.
    • When you’re on deck, be on deck ready to go. On deck doesn’t just mean “next shooter.” Being ready to go saves time when you're dealing with a squad of 12+ shooters.
    • Pack a lunch with extra snacks. Fill that cooler with extra drinks.
    • Study the IDPA New Shooter Packet at New Shooter Info.pdf
    • Because I believe it's so important to your first experience, I'll say it yet again: slow down. Do not focus on speed as a beginner. Invest in the deliberate pace a beginner should take. (You don't start a beginning piano player on Mozart, right.)
    • Have fun. Breathe. Relax. Smile. Rinse. Repeat.

    All that said, I'm hooked. I'll definitely be getting into IDPA. Deep into it. ;)
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
  2. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Sponsor Lifetime Supporting Member

    Good primer Royale...Thanks for taking the time to share.

  3. GlockYou

    GlockYou New Member

    Thanks for sharing! I have my first match on the 28th.
  4. Matthew780

    Matthew780 Very Sensitive Guy (^;)

    Thanks for the insight, Sir. I still have to check into my area to see if anyone hosts such events. But it definitely sounds like fun.
  5. Oddball Gunner

    Oddball Gunner New Member

    Aww, you beat me to the punch! :D

    Very well done. Same tips I was going to give.

    One thing to add: Do not change anything on your gear or gun before a match without giving yourself ample time to practice with that change. The match is not a good place to try something new.
  6. qoholeth

    qoholeth New Member

    Well, I beg to differ on the "match not a place to try new stuff" mantra. I think it's perfectly fine to try there instead of "on the street in real life or death situation", because there'll be another match next week or month but perhaps not another day "on the street". Matches, the one's shot for fun, are a great test bed, now if winning is all there is, then the good advice is "don't change anything without a test elsewhere" but for fun I say bring out the new stuff and give it a go. Last year I shot 7 IDPA matches each time using a different gun and two different calibers and 5 difference brands of ammo. I had a lot of fun and now i know more about how each gun, ammo and I compare, of course as always, IMHO & YMMV

    ROYALE-W-CHEESE New Member

    BIG WARNING TO ALL WHO ARE INTERESTED IN STARTING IDPA: You will be ruined for static ranges. ;)
  8. Oddball Gunner

    Oddball Gunner New Member

    LOL, aint that the truth! ... hate static ranges now.
  9. mgnj04

    mgnj04 New Member

    Where can I get info on places that hold IDPA Events? Thanks
  10. series11

    series11 Hail Commifornia Lifetime Supporting Member

    I did IDPA and I loved it!!!! Thanks for all the information.

    ROYALE-W-CHEESE New Member

    When asked what I thought of my first introduction to IDPA, my overwhelming feeling was: Scary as sh*t, fun as hell!
  12. Very good insight and well written.
  13. G-23

    G-23 Premium Member

    ROYALE-W-CHEESE Very well said and may I add one suggestion as a long time SO?

    Drawing and holstering a "Loaded Gun," is a challenge for most beginners and can get dangerous for the old timers too!

    Forgeting all the tripping, finger in the trigger calls, dealing with the holstering is probably the where most safety calls go un-noticed!

    First off allow me to state that I understand money is at a preimium in this economy, I get that. Good quality holsters aren't cheap either and, who doesn't have a drawer full of them by the time you find the right one? Well, let's try to learn from others mistakes and ask the people we work with on the range for their first hand experience? What better way to save room in that drawer for more guns and less holsters! I'm OK with cheap for awhile with my new shooters, but safety is #1.

    As you stated, learning to draw and holster with an empty gun is a must, and I might have touched on this before because I have seen and been hit/fragged by ND's during drawing of guns. While practicing this procedure in front of a mirror is a good way to learn the necessary motor skills, you have to learn the right skills to practice first.

    Simply grabbing a gun from the holster and pulling it out isn't a good techinque. And the holstering is going to get worst if you don't have the fundamentials down for your holster. This is were I see some of the most unsafe actions taking place on the range.

    So without stealing your thread, maybe I need to start one on just this aspect of gun handling. Oh boy, here we go.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  14. ADulay

    ADulay New Member

    Absolutely, 100% correct.

    Also, your original post was pretty much spot on for anyone reading about IDPA and how to get started. Nicely done.

  15. TheDanielism

    TheDanielism New Member

    What was it about the serpa retention holsters that is making them potentially dangerous/illegal?
  16. Ranges are reporting negligent discharges by serpa holster users when drawing. Users are continuing to press in with the finger they use to push the release button/lever even after the weapon starts to slide free, and sometimes fingers are slipping inside the trigger guard.
  17. izcoG19

    izcoG19 New Member

    Isnt it supposed to place the finger on the frame and not in the trigger guard, most especially not on the trigger?
  18. TheDanielism

    TheDanielism New Member

    Even when I first started I have never accidentally drawn with my finger anywhere but the frame, where it is designed to place the finger. Even my girlfriend draws the gun perfectly and she is very new to shooting.
  19. G-23

    G-23 Premium Member

    In the excitement of the game some people have developed a bad habit of not relaxing the index finger after releasing the retention device on the holster. They are releasing the gun and continuing to hold pressure on the finger causing it to pull the trigger once the trigger is exposed/clear of the trigger guard.

    AND this is why no one should ever stand behind a person drawing a firearm. This is also why shoulder holsters, cross draw, and small of the back holsters aren't allowed.